After defeating the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday night 115-98, the Denver Nuggets look to find some back-to-back magic for the first time the season. They picked a tough opponent to break their streak of dismal second-night performances against, however: the 8-2 San Antonio Spurs.

The Nuggets logged three 30-point quarters against the Pelicans and Danilo Gallinari led the way with a season-high 32 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 8 assists – all team-highs for the night, though Mudiay tied that assist mark with some beautiful passes. Denver cleaned up on the boards with a 10-rebound advantage, 43-33, taking advantage of a shoulder injury that shortened Anthony Davis's minutes to just 6 and added another loss to the dismal start by the Pelicans.

Denver won’t be able to count on the same short-handedness from the Spurs, as leading scorer Kawhi Leonard dropped 19 and Manu Ginobili rode to the rescue with 14 fourth-quarter points to help the Spurs throttle the Portland TrailBlazers 93-80 on Monday night. On Wednesday it will be the Nuggets who are short-handed and tired, and will need to give their best against a Spurs team that has beaten them in seven straight contests.

The Basics:

Who: Denver Nuggets (6-5) at San Antonio Spurs (8-2)

When: 6:30 pm MST

Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

How to Watch: Altitude

Rival Blog: Pounding the Rock

San Antonio Spurs Denver Nuggets Advantage
PG Tony Parker Emmanuel Mudiay Spurs
SG Danny Green Gary Harris Even
SF Kawhi Leonard Danilo Gallinari Spurs
PF LaMarcus Aldridge Kenneth Faried Spurs
C Tim Duncan J.J. Hickson Spurs
Bench Manu Ginobili, David West, Kyle Anderson, Rasual Butler, Boris Diaw, Patty Mills

Jameer Nelson, Darrell Arthur, Kostas Papanikolaou, Will Barton, Nikola Jokic, Randy Foye, Mike Miller


Injured Players: Joffrey Lauvergne, back (out), Jusuf Nurkic, knee (out), Wilson Chandler, hip (out), Kenneth Faried, back (questionable)

Three Thoughts:

1) Gallo needs to play all four quarters. Danilo has come out hot in the first halves of most games this year, but has had trouble maintaining that performance for the whole game. Against the Pelicans, Gallinari had 15 in the third quarter to change the momentum and put the Nuggets on the winning track. He’ll need a similar performance against the Spurs, since he’s not even the best small forward in this game. Kawhi Leonard is averaging 21.6 points per game, turns the ball over at a very low rate considering his usage and is the floor leader for a team stacked with leaders. Gallinari will have to provide similar leadership – and box score contributions – for his young, depleted team to stand a chance.

2) Back-to-back energy. The Nuggets have to find some energy reserves after playing Tuesday night, but they have been hopeless so far this season on that fateful second night. After playing the night before, Denver lost by 24 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, by 15 to the Golden State Warriors (which was an improvement somehow on their 30-point halftime deficit) and by 24 to the Phoenix Suns. After the Suns debacle, coach Michael Malone said simply, “they kicked our ass.” The Nuggets need to find some pride and be able to defend themselves against a good team when the situation isn’t optimal. The Nuggets can’t get lazy and selfish and start hoisting a ton of threes with no ball movement. They need to pass and move, even on tired legs, and let the Spurs take the game if they can. No more giving it away in the first quarter, even with a short bench.

3) Find the bouncing ball. The Oklahoma City Thunder were able to beat the Spurs by out-rebounding them – no easy feat when LaMarcus Aldridge finds his groove. Denver is going to have to rebound as a team to keep the Spurs from cleaning up on second chance points, and this would be an excellent game for a Manimal-type performance from Kenneth Faried. Joffrey Lauvergne is still out, so Hickson and Jokic will need to do their part against the aged-but-still-fundamental Tim Duncan, while the young guards hustle up rebounds on both ends of the court.

This game will not be easy, but if the Nuggets will simply compete for 48 minutes I'll take any scoreboard result and be satisfied.

Prediction: Spurs 100, Nuggets 87

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